Saturday 24th September 2016
By Tony Rickson
Sittingbourne (0) 1 (Cornwell 55) Lewes (0) 3 (Coppola 76, Brotherton 80 (pen) 90+4)
Sittingbourne: Ben Bridle-Card, Tom Brunt, Conrad Lee, Dan Tanner, Jono
Richardson (Yellow card), Jack Steventon (Connor Wilkins, 84 min),
Stefan Wright, Josh Wisson (Ola Rabiu, 27 min), Ricky Gundry, Miles
Cornwell, Tom Carlse (Hicham Akhazzan, 66 min). Subs not used: Danny
Rumbol, Sam Welch.
Lewes: Chris Winterton, Steven Brinkhurst, Matthew George, Lloyd
Harrington (Yellow card), Stacey Freeman, Alex Mallins, Arinse Uade
(Alex Laing, 69 min), James Hammond (Ronnie Conlon, 52 min), Trevor
McCreadie (Jamie Brotherton, 52 min), Jack Dixon, Charlie Coppola. Subs
not used: Leon Dramis, Callum Kealy.
Referee: Mr Tom Bishop. Assistants: Mr Luigi Lungarella, Mr Ivaylo
Thatís three times now this season that Sittingbourne have lost leads late in a game.
If theyíd stayed in front against Cray, Three Bridges and now Lewes, theyíd have seven points more and be in one of the play-off places.
Not that itís been a bad first six weeks of the season at all. Sittingbourne have achieved more than many suspected they would, and have at all times battled with energy, played some good football, and successfully blended youth with experience.
Yet they canít quite see out some games, Lewes turning this one on its head in the last 15 minutes after Sittingbourne had taken the lead with a terrific goal by on-fire top scorer Miles Cornwell.
Lewes, relegated into the league this season, havenít found their feet yet but obviously have some decent players Ė well, three of them were on the substitutesí bench for this game and won it when they came on.
Sittingbourne made just one change to the team that beat Horsham the previous Saturday, new signing Ricky Gundry going straight in as the main striker in place of the suspended Jordan Gallagher.
Heís the fourth No 9 already this season, the place having been taken previously by Remell Davis, who quickly drifted off, Cornwell, though heís more dangerous coming in from just behind the main striker, and then Gallagher.
Ex-Chatham player Gundry fitted in immediately and tried hard as well as playing a key role in the Sittingbourne goal.
Once again Sittingbourne went with their teenage central midfield pair of Jack Steventon and Josh Wisson, but it didnít even survive the first half as Wisson went off sick.
It was an even first 45 minutes with Dan Tanner heading an early chance wide from Wissonís cross and Sittingbourne hitting the bar when a defender miscued a clearance.At the other end, the majestic Jono Richardson, with his new baby son present for his first ever game, seemed to head clear every Lewes cross, though keeper Ben Bridle-Card was also quickly off his line whenever he spotted danger.
In fact, Lewes didnít create a single chance all half so competently did Sittingbourne defend, but going the other way the home side often conceded possession by coming unstuck with attempted long killer passes forward.Into the second half and Sittingbourne seemed to take what would be a
crucial advantage in a tight game. The pacy Raba made space on the right, Gundry cut in and pulled the ball back beautifully for Cornwell to confidently crash home first-time off the underside of the bar.
Sittingbourne seemed to be holding out well, but Lewes undoubtedly gained more impetus with their subs, though it was one of the starting XI who equalised after 76 minutes, Coppola running at the defence and benefitting from a lucky rebound to place his shot past Bridle-Card.
Then the experienced Brotherton took over, shrewdly winning a penalty four minutes later as he made sure he crashed noisily to the ground under Stefan Wrightís challenge.
Brotherton took the pen himself and thumped it home, Lewes finding themselves out of jail and with the momentum all theirs now.
The third goal didnít matter but Brotherton helped himself, dispossessing Tanner and then cleverly chipping over the keeper with the last kick of the game.
Sittingbourne canít lick their wounds for long Ė itís familiar rivals Ramsgate at home on Tuesday night with more league points, not to mention bragging rights between players who know each other well, at stake.
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